Abbey and Turkey

I’ve been thinking about Edward Abbey and Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for my loved ones. I’m thankful for my community. I’m thankful for shelter and good food and a safe place to live.

This is part of our Voices of Thanksgiving series. You can find all the stories and reflections of gratitude here.

One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am–a reluctant enthusiast… a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.

– Edward Abbey

I’ve been thinking about Edward Abbey and Thanksgiving. 1 I’m thankful for my loved ones. I’m thankful for my community. I’m thankful for shelter and good food and a safe place to live.

I’m also thankful for Creation. I’m thankful that I have been born in a time when it is still possible to breathe deep that “yet sweet and lucid air.” I’m thankful that I’ve gotten to climb mountains and bag peaks and feel my heart thud-thudding with a trout on my fly. I’m thankful that I’ve been lucky enough to see sunrises and sunsets and glacial ponds and hemlock groves. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to hang out by campfires with stars above and friends around. I’m even thankful that I’ve gotten gnawed on by mosquitoes and blackflies, scared by rattlers, and been in the presence of bears and moose that could have ended me if they wanted.

When we look at the pending environmental crisis, it is easy to sink into despair. We have a long way to go.

But this last weekend I got to head out of town with some good friends, shiver it out in 20 degree weather, and then climb around on some rocks. It made me very happy and I forgot about despair. It reminded me that you have to know and love what it is you’re trying to save. And it reminded me to be thankful. If indeed it does “all turn on affection,” as Wendell Berry puts it, then I think thanking the Creator who made rocks and sunsets and stars is a good place to start. I hope you take some time to get outside this week. And I hope you make time to be thankful for that gift.

Happy Thanksgiving.


  1. I’m indebted to Nate Van Ypren for introducing me to this quote.
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